Get us in your inbox

Mask on subway
Photograph: Shutterstock

You’re no longer required to wear a mask on the subway

New York State has lifted the mask requirement for all public transit.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

It’s a big day in New York. After 28 months of masking up on public transit, New Yorkers are no longer required to wear a mask on the subway, buses or trains.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced the change during a press conference on Wednesday, noting that New York is going from “required” to “optional” when it comes to masking up in most places. 

Of course, you’ll still need to mask up at state-regulated health care facilities and clinical settings, but this is a “new normal” that will be seen on public transit, in shelters, correctional facilities and detention centers.

The decision to remove the mandate is based on CDC guidance and a “stabilization” of COVID-19 cases, according to the governor.

“[Masks have] always been a visible reminder that something is not normal here and it was there for the right reason—it protected health and now we’re in a far different place than we had been,” Hochul said. “This is not a one-day snapshot we’re watching trends and this is a stabilization of those numbers. I still expect to see many ppl on the trains, and subways and walking down the streets [wearing masks]…that is their choice. It’s encouraged but optional.”

A quick check of NYC’s case numbers shows about an 8.7% percent positivity rate, which is declining. The hospitalizations and deaths are also decreasing.

According to Gothamist, mask compliance on the subway has fallen off—a rider masking survey in April showed rates had fallen to 64% compliance, down from roughly 90% the previous year.

Hochul says the MTA will roll out the yellow signs (above) shortly and that we all need to be respectful of each other’s choices to wear or not wear a mask (where it’s optional).

“I know this is a big change,” Hochul said. “Let’s respect each other’s choices—what that means is if you choose not to [wear a mask] that is your own decision. You make your own determination but do not judge your fellow passengers on what their choices are. Let’s be respectful.”

Popular on Time Out

    More on Labor Day

      Latest news


        The best things in life are free.

        Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

        Loading animation
        Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

        🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

        Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!